Conasauga Judicial Circuit Begins Veterans Court

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Conasauga Veterans Court team members stand in front of the Veterans Memorial near the Whitfield County Courthouse, including (from left, front row) Candice Groce, Leah Ozment, Judge Cindy Morris, Jennifer Richardson, and Christina Curtis; (back row) P.J. Hemmann, Kelly Johnson, Tim Bell, Christopher Tucker, Ray Figg, Todd Breitmann, Jeremy McMillan, and Geoff Bard.
Conasauga Veterans Court team members stand in front of the Veterans Memorial near the Whitfield County Courthouse, including (from left, front row) Candice Groce, Leah Ozment, Judge Cindy Morris, Jennifer Richardson, and Christina Curtis; (back row) P.J. Hemmann, Kelly Johnson, Tim Bell, Christopher Tucker, Ray Figg, Todd Breitmann, Jeremy McMillan, and Geoff Bard.
- photo by Mitch Talley

The Conasauga Judicial Circuit team members gathered Tuesday morning to unveil the new Veterans Court in front of the Veterans Memorial monument outside the Whitfield County Courthouse.

The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners on April 13 unanimously approved a grant from the State of Georgia establishing a Veterans Accountability Court for the local circuit. 

As Chairman Lynn Laughter called for a vote, she said, “We ought to all be seen as trying to help our veterans. They have gotten the short end of the stick for a long time.”  

Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris will preside over the Veterans Accountability Court that will serve the citizens of Whitfield and Murray counties.

“Our community has always honored the service of our veterans,” Judge Morris said. “We appreciate the Whitfield County Commissioners’ support in accepting the Veterans Court grant.  We especially value the commitment of Chairman Lyn Laughter and County Administrator Mark Gibson in the effort.”

Veterans Court is a project the Superior Court has been pursuing for some time, Judge Morris said, and they have already seen tremendous enthusiasm and support from the citizens of the circuit.  

“We are happy to say today our dream of a Veterans Court has become a reality,” the judge said.

Veterans Court is funded through a grant awarded from the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council under the Council of Accountability Court Judges grant program.  
Accountability courts such as Veterans Court return a savings of approximately $27 per dollar invested due to alleviating court and incarceration costs, officials said. The grant provides the amount of $44,493 for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020.  A new grant request has already been made for fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1.  

Officials said, "The Conasauga Veterans Accountability Court will be geared toward addressing criminal defendants whose behavior is driven by substance abuse and mental health issues that may be related to experiences during their service to the United States."  Veteran status with the United States military will be a requirement.

The Chattanooga VA Clinic is chartered to serve the northwest Georgia area.  Teresa Worthington, who serves as Veterans Justice Outreach for the VA, noted that the new partnership with Veterans Court will help link under-served veterans in the community to the federal services they are entitled to receive.  

"Veterans Court will be focused on helping participants modify their behavior by assuring that they attend required counseling sessions, take their prescribed psychiatric medications, remain free from illegal and non-prescribed drugs and attend any veteran’s hospital appointments," officials said. 

Veterans Court will be working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs and local American Legions and will be supported by the volunteer services of local veterans who will be recruited and trained to serve as mentors for court participants. Veterans interested in serving as mentors may contact Todd Breitmann at 706-281-4822 or tbreitmann@whitfieldcountyga. com.  

The Northwest Georgia Community Foundation will serve as the 501(c)(3) administrator for programs to support participants of Veterans Court. 

Veterans Court will also keep the program’s participants accountable for their actions by imposing sanctions if they fail to comply with treatment or if they become engaged in further criminal activity.  The participants will appear before Judge Morris every other week so that she can monitor their progress. She will be assisted by the Veterans Court team including public defenders, prosecutors, law enforcement, probation officers and treatment providers.

Lt. Col. Breitmann, who will be the new Veterans Court coordinator, retired as a lieutenant colonel after 24 years in the United States Air Force.  During his service, Lt. Col. Breitmann managed the USAF’s largest flying training program, led and managed air defense operations after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, coordinated with the Coast Guard for search and rescue operations after Hurricane Katrina and planned and executed air defense for the president of the United States.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and after his military career service served as coordinator for the Conasauga Circuit Drug Court. 

The Veterans Court Team members are Judge Cindy Morris, Treatment Court Administrator Jennifer Richardson, Coordinator Todd Breitmann, Clinical Case Manager Leah Ozment, Surveillance Officer Ray Figg, Assistant District Attorney Geoff Bard, Assistant Public Defender Paul “P.J.” Hemmann, Jeremy McMillan of the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Department, Tim Bell of the Murray County Sheriff’s Department, Christopher Tucker of the Dalton Police Department, State Probation Officer Leonard Jackson, Misdemeanor Probation Officer Candice Groce, Teresa Worthington from Veterans Justice Outreach of the Veterans Administration, Veteran Service Officer Kelly Johnson from the Georgia Department of Veterans Affairs and Erin Wilder from GA HOPE. Lt. Col. Breitmann will also serve as mentor coordinator.


Chickamauga Chapter Members Celebrate Opening Of National DAR Continental Congress

THP Announces 4th Of July Traffic Enforcement Strategy

THP Graduates 22 State Troopers From Lateral Law Enforcement


National Society Daughters of the American Revolution’s Chickamauga Chapter members gathered Wednesday evening, June 29 at the Heritage Landing Clubhouse for a watch party and dinner celebrating ... (click for more)

“The Tennessee Highway Patrol is committed to ensuring safety on our roadways this Fourth of July weekend,” said Colonel Matt Perry. “Troopers will be working diligently to curb distracted driving, ... (click for more)

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long and Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Matt Perry announce the newest graduating class of 22 new Tennessee State Troopers. ... (click for more)



Happenings

THP Announces 4th Of July Traffic Enforcement Strategy

“The Tennessee Highway Patrol is committed to ensuring safety on our roadways this Fourth of July weekend,” said Colonel Matt Perry. “Troopers will be working diligently to curb distracted driving, enforce speed limits, make sure everyone is buckled up, and stop impaired drivers. I want everyone to have a fun weekend of celebration and to be safe about it. Please do your part by ... (click for more)

THP Graduates 22 State Troopers From Lateral Law Enforcement

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long and Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Matt Perry announce the newest graduating class of 22 new Tennessee State Troopers. Governor Bill Lee served as the keynote speaker during the graduation ceremony, and Commissioner Jeff Long swore in the new troopers as they delivered their oaths of office. Trooper Cadet ... (click for more)

Breaking News

EPA Awarding Brownfield Grant At Site Of Planned Lookouts Stadium

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe on Wednesday is set to present the city of Chattanooga with Brownfield program cleanup and assessment grants at the site of a planned new $79.5 million stadium to be used by the Lookouts. The press conference will be at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland site. The grant is "to help spur economic revitalization ... (click for more)

$79.5 Million Stadium Touted As Catalyst For Major Project At Long-Blighted Wheland/U.S. Pipe Site; Lookouts To Pay $1 Million Annually To Lease "Community" Stadium

More than 100 acres of the long-neglected U.S. Pipe and Wheland Foundry sites "will begin transforming into a world-class live-work-play district that will generate more than $40 million for schools," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly announced at a press conference at the site on Thursday. Flanked by nationally renowned master developer Jim ... (click for more)

Opinion

New Stadium Does Not Pass The Smell Test - And Response

I can't find any logical reasons that the new Lookout stadium is being placed where it is other than to think it's a combination of favoritism and eliminating an eyesore. All statistics point to an illogical decision coupled with questionable tax breaks/support. Lookouts average attendance in 2018 (all that I could quickly find) was 3,206 per game and ranked 74th among ... (click for more)

School Achievement Tied To Funding?

My career was in the public schools of several states. I never drew the connection to funding for schools and achievement until later. This is what I have found. The states of the deep south are run by Republicans. In all of them, educational achievement is poor. Is there a connection between funding for schools and achievement? The answer to that should be a resounding "yes." ... (click for more)